A broke city looks 'beyond bankruptcy'

San Bernardino entered 2013 unable to pay its bills and pleading for protection from its creditors in a Chapter 9 filing. The city was broke, and its financial crisis revealed operational problems that could no longer be ignored. It was time for the community to get involved. The Sun led the way.

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  1. In January, The Sun announced it would launch a year-long editorial project to examine the policies and practices that helped lead San Bernardino to bankruptcy.
  2. A few months later, The Sun News Lounge opened its doors, and readers were invited inside to share their thoughts on how the newsroom could better serve the community. The News Lounge and the events it sponsored quickly became a forum for concerned community members to make connections with others interested in the city's bankruptcy and its return to solvency.
  3. August marked the anniversary of the city's Chapter 9 filing. After spending the better part of a year weighing in on San Bernardino's problems, editorial writer and editor Jessica Keating wanted to re-direct the conversation. It was time to stop looking back, and instead focus on the future. 
  4. Attendance exceeded The Sun's expectations. Previous News Lounge events drew a dozen or so to The Sun's office in downtown San Bernardino. On Aug. 1, than 120 residents, business owners, civic leaders and elected officials gathered to discuss practical ways to improve the quality of life in San Bernardino.
  5. In the months that followed, residents planned park and community cleanups, and worked to get out the vote for the Nov. 5 election, which targeted several officials for recall. 
  6. Shortly before the Nov. 5 election, The Sun News Lounge organized a voter town hall to turn the tables on candidates, asking them to listen while voters talked about their hopes for their city.
  7. In the Nov. 5 election, nine months after The Sun began its editorial project and launched a community-wide conversation about changes needed at City Hall, voters recalled two entrenched city leaders, the city attorney and a city councilwoman, and advanced a political reform candidate to the February 2014 mayoral runoff. The reformer, Carey Davis, would go on to win the mayor's seat in the Feb. 4 election.
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